As anyone with a special diet knows, travelling presents extra challenges. Whenever I travel, I have a set of basic items that I choose from to ensure I do not starve if gluten free options fall short during transit or at my destination. Usually a pair of shoes and a spare outfit get left behind to fit it all in my suitcase!
If you are based in the UK, this list might be of some use, particularly if you are new to travelling as a coeliac or new to the UK. Occasionally I end up using very few of my emergency supplies, but frequently I have used most of them and have to ration to keep some things for the flight home!
My gluten free travel snacks need to fill one or more of the following criteria:
- long shelf life (needs to last the duration of the holiday & for the return plane trip if you can’t re-stock while away)
- durability (needs to survive being packed in a suitcase or being in a bag that is carried around and being pushed under airline seats)
- flavour (often the gluten free diet when travelling is incredibly bland)
- crunch (again something that can be lacking when travelling)
- be a treat (again something that cannot be found on a whim when travelling)
You can of course buy healthy fresh fruit and vegetables when you arrive at your destination!
- Savoury biscuits
- Chocolate biscuits & chocolate
- Other snacks
- Pre-packaged meals
- Hot chocolate
Breakfast is usually quite easy if you are staying in a hotel – think boiled eggs or an omelette with some veggies, cheese, tomato, mushrooms, fruit salad or a piece of fruit. But I find it like to top it up with some carbs – particularly if filling up at breakfast because lunch may not be easy. My favourite breakfast addition is DS Crispbread which is lovely with some cream cheese and smoked salmon.
The following is a typical breakfast option in a hotel – it looks a little bland, so it is good to top it up with some bread from home (see bread section below). It is always worth taking toaster bags on the off chance the toaster is suitable for using these (I’ve never tried using a conveyor style toaster with a toaster bag, but it may work!).
Newburn Bakehouse wraps
These are the saviour of the travelling coeliac as they do not break – despite being folded and banged about in a handbag or rucksack, sometimes for days on end. For me they have become a cheese & salad wrap at breakfast, or a naan replacement with a curry, or just to dip in some olive oil as some pre-dinner bread to fill the gap while waiting for a meal. I have found they usually last past their best before date too! Available in major supermarkets (I have seen them at Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Ocado). I usually buy the seeded wraps. They freeze well, so you can keep them ready to go in the freezer and let them defrost while travelling.
This bread is tasty and has a long use by date, so it is handy to keep in the pantry ready for your travels as I don’t see it in many places. I buy it from Ocado. I prefer it toasted, and have pan toasted it when there was no toaster or grill.
Amisa Breakfast rolls
These are lovely with lots of seeds throughout. Vacuum packed in two halves and they don’t need warming (but can be). If self catering, I have made ham and salad rolls out of these, but would also be handy to have one in your bag for a roll with an evening meal.
Pretzels are great as they don’t crush easily, give good crunch and have a bit of flavour – admittedly from salt. I buy Barkat or DS (Dietary Specials) from the major supermarkets.
Wellaby’s chips & dip
I am a bit of dip fiend, and dip is one of the things I miss most when on the road and do not have a fridge. Wellaby’s have a travel pack of lentil chips and chickpea dip that does not need to be refrigerated (until it is open, if it lasts that long). A good serve for one. Available at Ocado.
Biscuits for cheese
Mrs Crimble’s Cheese Crackers are my essential item that are with me at all times in my handbag. As there are usually no suitable dessert options apart from cheese, these make a plate of cheese that much more enjoyable. I also like them on their own, and can be handy as a pre-dinner bread roll replacement if waiting a long time for a meal.
As you won’t eat a whole packet in one sitting, you need to have some handy containers – see below!
If you eat oats, also look for Nairn’s oat biscuits in the major supermarkets.
I found these great containers from my favourite UK shop – Lakeland. You can fill all three and have two handbag size ones ready, and then re-stock from the larger one.
It is also worth taking some zip lock freezer bags for any packets of things you happen to find while away, along with some elastic bands to reseal things that you might not finish. I put an elastic band around items I know I won’t finish all at once – such as the pretzels or M&M’s.
Chocolate and chocolate biscuits
Chocolate wafers – Kelkin or Tesco Free From
These are just like a Kit Kat and combines as a chocolate fix as well as a sweet, crunchy treat.
UK or USA Peanut M&M’s
In Australia, where I am from, the Peanut M&M’s have wheat starch in them, but not in the UK or America (I believe). Being able to have these is a big treat for me and they are nice and filling.
Thorntons Turkish Delight
Thorntons is a chocolate store that is often found in regional areas, although is also in central London in Oxford Street and Liverpool Street station. I love their little packets of Turkish Delight (covered in chocolate) that can be resealed. I have seen some Thorntons’ products in Clinton Cards stores, but usually boxed chocolates.
Both these products are snack packs in a larger pack and have a nice strong cheesy taste and give crunch. These are not part of the M&S ‘Wheat Free’ range, but are gluten free by ingredient, with no cross contamination statement.
Most of the supermarkets stock mini bags of dried fruit which are handbag size for carrying a snack and don’t get bruised like a fresh piece of fruit. (NB: not all countries allow fresh food to be imported.)
All the supermarkets and convenience stores stock nuts
Inka Giant corn
Does this count as a vegetable? The chill on these gives some much needed flavour when away, and great crunch.
Mrs Crimble’s Jam Coconut ring
I find individually packed jam coconut rings at Holland & Barrett health food stores – nice for a sweet treat. I have to pack extra for my gluten eating husband so he doesn’t eat all my supplies!
Popcorn is a relatively nutritious snack and can be low calorie. I like ProperCorn and Metcalfe’s do a pack with 6 small bags at Sainsbury’s.
I don’t eat cake often when at home, but I find I really crave something sweet when I’m away. Look for cupcakes enclosed in a plastic case to protect them while travelling – both Genius and Udi’s sell them in a handy container (at Sainsbury’s and Tesco).
Fruit and Nut Bars
I’m not a huge fan of bars, but if you like them they can be a nutritious option to take away with you. Look for Nak’d, Eat Natural and 9Bars, available in the major supermarkets. They make a good breakfast on the go, or a snack. I always pack some Eat Natural bars for my husband in case we skip breakfast.
If you eat oats, this Sainsbury’s gingerbread man has a nice kick of ginger and does not crumble being carried around in a bag.
Kabuto noodles came onto the UK market in 2014 and make a nice quick meal if you have hot water available. Stocked at the major supermarkets, Ocado and Wholefoods.
I recently also noticed Itsu noodles at Sainsbury’s.
If you have a microwave available, you can buy vacuum packed meals from Sainsbury’s or Ilumi via mail order. Add some microwavable rice and you have a quick meal.
I don’t enjoy tea or coffee, so hot chocolate is my preferred drink in winter, but finding one without barley malt in it is very difficult in the UK, and even harder when in a foreign country! I carry sachets of hot chocolate with me so I can ask for hot water or hot milk and stir it in.
I hope this list has been of some help in planning your gluten free food while away. They are just the things I like – there are plenty of other options in the Free From aisles in the supermarkets.
For more ideas on eating out gluten free in London and the UK, please check the following links:
- Visiting the UK
- 100% Gluten Free UK page (including London)
- Summary of chains offering gluten free options
- London restaurant reviews
- all UK restaurant reviews
- Travel food from Australia
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